We stopped Labour's port sell off - now a community led port is rising at Dover
Applications have now closed for the post of Community Director at the Port of
Dover. So I thought this would be a good moment to write about the appointment
process and plans for the future of the port.
When I was elected back in
2010, the port was about to be sold off to the French or whoever. This was the
plan of the previous Government. All that was needed was the flick of the
Minister's pen and it would all have been over. With the community, I campaigned
passionately and relentlessly to stop the port sell off. For our community to be
able to own the port and make it a People's Port if it was to be sold off. The
Dover referendum and my defeating the Government in a key Parliamentary vote
finally saw us triumph. After a long and hard campaign we had won and stopped
the sell off. Yet it was never going to be enough to let matters rest there.
There had to be change and reform at the port.
The port needed new
leadership and to be able to raise money to invest if it was to realise its
potential. The port needed to be seen to benefit the town and community. And
there needed to be a proper link between the community and the port. The
leadership at the port was changed and made much progress. The Ports Minister
came some months ago and announced further changes. The port will now be able to
raise the money needed to make the transformation. There will be a community
benefit fund. And there will be community directors enabling a community led
port to rise at the docks.
It's important the community directors are
treated the same as all the other directors. That means they should be paid the
same as the other directors. Otherwise our community's voice would be diminished
before it even gets into the boardroom. It's important these directors are
genuine - chosen by our community to represent our community's interest. For
this reason, the interviewing panel will include the Labour Mayor of Dover, the
Conservative Leader of Dover District Council, the Chairman of the Local
Enterprise Partnership and the Member of Parliament. In addition it will include
the Chairmen of the Port Community Forum and of the Port Businesses Group. All
levels of Government and representative groups will be involved in the choice.
It's really positive that everyone who cares about Dover and the success
of the port is coming together in this way. I am so proud elected
representatives of our community are continuing to work together cross party and
working with the Harbour Board on the interviewing panel. This is essential if
we are to see the true partnership that has been needed for so many